Thursday, 22 December 2011

Decision on combat aircraft within fortnight


INS Kadmatt, an anti-submarine corvette, being launched in Kolkata. The MoD Year-end Review is happy with the progress of warship building in India


By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Dec 11

The defence ministry (MoD) indicates that a decision is imminent about whether the air force will buy the Typhoon or the Rafale; that army chief, General VK Singh, will not get another year in office; and that indigenous ballistic missiles are the success story of this year. These are the highlights of the MoD’s “Year-end Review”, an annual summary that was released today.

The review terms 2011 as “The Decisive Year for the MMRCA”, suggesting that the winner of the contest to sell India 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft could be announced this fortnight. In April, the MoD eliminated Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Mikoyan and Saab, leaving only Dassault’s Rafale and Eurofighter’s Typhoon in the fray. On 4th November, the two commercial bids were opened. The IAF has submitted a comparative evaluation and the ball is now in the MoD’s court.

Once the winning bid is announced, the MoD will convene a “Contract Negotiation Committee” to negotiate a final price. MoD sources indicate that the price quoted by both vendors is significantly higher than the Rs 42,000 crore that the union cabinet has cleared for this purchase.

The MoD’s annual review also indicates that ballistic missile development has topped the Defence R&D Organisation’s (DRDO’s) indigenous programmes. Nine successful missile tests were conducted and the launch of the all-new 3,500 km range Agni-4 Ballistic Missile on 15th Nov is termed “the highlight of the year”.

Other missiles tested include the Prithvi-2; the Dhanush (both with a range of 350 km); the new Prahaar tactical battlefield missile (200 km); the Pakistan-specific Agni-1 (700 km); and Agni-2 (2000 km); and the innovative, hybrid Shourya missile (700 km) that can be fired from land or submarine.

The review is silent on the Agni-5 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), which was to have been fired this month. However, the DRDO postponed this high-profile test till Feb-Mar 2012, reducing developmental risk by testing and validating several of the Agni-5’s new technologies on the Agni-4.

Another success story is the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The air force granted the Tejas its first stage of operational clearance in Jan 11; final operational clearance is expected next year. The review also mentions the naval Tejas, which will fly off the navy’s aircraft carriers. Having completed its engine ground run in Sep 11, it will shortly take to the skies.

The MoD review falsely eulogizes the long-delayed Kaveri engine, which DRDO is developing for the Tejas. While the Kaveri did indeed complete “Flying Test Bed” trials in Russia this year, powering a modified IL-76 transport aircraft, it remains well short of the power needed for the Tejas fighter. The DRDO is now partnering French engine-maker, Snecma, in an attempt to resurrect the Kaveri.

Another success story in the “Year-end Review” is the warship building programme. Two major warships were commissioned this year: the 6,200-tonne frigate, INS Satpura in August; and the 27,500 tonne, “made-in-Italy” fleet tanker, INS Deepak, in Jan. Another major warship, the 3000-tonne indigenous anti-submarine corvette, INS Kadmatt, was launched in October. Four smaller Coast Guard and navy vessels were also launched. To nurture design capability, Defence Minister Antony laid the foundation stone for the National Institute for Research and Development (NIRDESH) in Defence Shipbuilding in January.

2012 could see a further boost. Likely to be commissioned are two Kolkata-class destroyers, each 6,800 tonnes; the Satpura’s successor frigate, INS Sahyadri; and the anti-submarine corvette, INS Kamorta, along with several other smaller craft.

Tantalizingly, the review suggests that the MoD could ignore army chief General VK Singh’s petition, asking for his date of birth to be corrected, which would give him an additional year in office till May 2013. The review states, “MoD’s decision setting at rest the controversy of the age of Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh was prominently carried by the media in July.”

The “Year-end Review” illustrates the growing role of military diplomacy, listing 27 international exchanges at the service chief or MoD level. The military also carried out 7 exercises with friendly foreign countries, including the US, France, Turkey, Oman and Singapore. However, diplomatic niceties find no place in the review. It categorizes Pakistan’s prompt return of an Indian helicopter --- which strayed across the Line of Control near Kargil and landed at a Pakistani helipad in October --- as "The Non-Event of the Year".

10 comments:

joydeep ghosh said...

@ajai sir

dont know why the year end review leaves a few things still unanswered, like

1. Status report of N-LCA
2. Status report on INS Vikrant at Kochi
3. Status report on K15/K4
4. Status report of INS Arihant(supposedly a SSGN)

and many more

Ajai sir i am no defence analyst but I think 2 things need to be addressed next year

1. Steps to engage Republic of Somaliland in Horn of Africa

2. Use of INS Viraat which is very much battle worthy till 2025 after 2013 when Harriers are retired.

In my opinion using the ship as a helicopter carrier and under ANC tri service command will be better option.

Your views on this

Thans

Joydeep Ghosh

Anonymous said...

@joydeep ghosh

here are a few answers i have to ur questions

1. will make its maiden flight by dec end or jan begining

2. The initial sea trial (dunno wat its called but thats the first time the ship experiences itself in seawater)...was abt to happen in november which is delayed by 6 months and is likely by march-april 2012

3. no idea

4. sea trials on...bt the project is kept very secretive and mysterious

and about INS Viraat....it will have Mig 29K planes...india is already in process of acquiring 8 helicopter landing utilities as far as i know...

Anonymous said...

The chief should approach the Armed Forces Tribunal

Prem Kumar said...

Ajai: Prahaar's range is 150KM, not 200KM

Psmith said...

"The MoD review falsely eulogizes the long-delayed Kaveri engine, which DRDO is developing for the Tejas. While the Kaveri did indeed complete “Flying Test Bed” trials in Russia this year, powering a modified IL-76 transport aircraft, it remains well short of the power needed for the Tejas fighter."

Is the MOD being false or are you spreading falsehood? It is true that Kaveri is delayed but care to write about certain fact like:

1. Not more than two or three countries in the world can make an engine of the same level as the so called "failed" Kaveri?

2. How much technology gap was covered with this so called failed Kaveri?

3. That the present Kaveri even if it works as designed (which it is close to) will not meet IAF's significantly CHANGED needs for the Tejas

4. That India has not even designed a bike engine and the Govt was trying to leapfrog from nothing to something so complex that beyond US, France and Russia, no body else can do it...and India is close to getting there....despite the fact that we did not have the infrastructure or know how to develop such a complex product....

Mercifully, the mandarins at MoD have more sense to appreciate our achievements rather than crying about how we are bad and how others are better than us....

Anonymous said...

Re Ajai Shukla

Sir, you are one of the few reporters who are canvassing for indigenous development of military equipment. Recently you carried an article on estimated cost of development of LCA and compared with western programmes. But I believe that the analysis may have been stymied with lack of data. I would like to point recent articles point out that “present inflation adjusted” cost of Rafale is around US$ 190-210 million spread over 286 units. Estimating current production cost of Rafale at around US$ 90-110 million (from various reports) leaves us with estimate of around US$ 25 to 30 Billion for R&D cost involved in Rafale programme. This clearly shows that Indian LCA is massively underfunded with current inflation adjusted cost of US$ 2 Billion.

Similarly we are putting in half of PAKFA R&D costs estimated to be around US$ 10 to 15 Billion with engine & radar etc. The first tranche of funding is around Rs 1500 crores. While our own AMCA gets only US$ 2 Billion while first tranche of funding is around Rs. 100 crores only.

Similarly Arjun Mark-2 costs have gone up massively by adding remote controlled weapon station, 2 additional thermal sights, etc which are missing in T-90s. This shows that by one means or other we place our own programmes at dis-advantage.

joydeep ghosh said...

@anonymous 17.13

there is one mistake

INS Viraat is not configured to fly MiG 29k

thanks

Joydeep Ghosh

Mr. Ra said...

We are behind and late in the race, so our indigenous development of military equipment needs to be hastened with quantum jumps notwithstanding the financial stresses it creates.

Dandupe05 said...

Dear Sirs :

Surely Indian-mmrca- Rafales could be launched from small aircraft carriers using twined-against-failure 'rato'_(rocket assisted takeoff) , such as those operated by India and Brazil, and other navies.
Rafale_M could land thereon, too.

Dandupe05 said...

Dear Sirs :

Surely Indian-mmrca- Rafales could be launched from small aircraft carriers using twined-against-failure 'rato'_(rocket assisted takeoff) , such as those operated by India and Brazil, and other navies.
Rafale_M could land thereon, too.